We’ve seen Tesla’s efforts in the world of automated driving. It’s even available publicly on their vehicles. However, starting this fall, the Elon Musk-founded company will have some serious competition as Cadillac is entering this same category with their new Super Cruise mode that’ll take over the wheel on major roads and allow you to sit back and relax…
… Well kinda.
In their announcement, Cadillac says their 2018 CT6 sedan will feature Super Cruise which is activatable via a button on the steering wheel. The car will then begin identifying what road it’s on, and if it’s a compatible one, you’ll notice that you won’t be operating your vehicle any longer. Instead, you’ll act as an advisor of sorts while your car drives itself. Cadillac rates this tier of autonomous driving at Level 2 since you’ll be required to pay attention to the road in case of malfunction from the feature. An infrared camera will track your eyes and face and make sure you do so. In the case of you glancing at your phone or not paying attention in general, the car will warn you with beeps, vibrations, and lights to let you know you need to keep your eyes on the road. The feature seems nifty, but it’s a bit gimmicky at this point.
For one, you can only use Super Cruise on mapped out roads, like an expressway. Cadillac says they’ve mapped “every limited-access highway in the US and Canada,” but this means places like cities or your neighborhood won’t reap the benefits. Luckily, the list of supported maps can be updated over the air to your vehicle.
But that’s not all. The system’s built to navigate you through commutes like your way to work or a long day trip up north, so you can’t use Super Cruise on backroads or unmarked pathways either. Basically, it’s just a way for you to complete common tasks while driving to work or home on a major highway. The best way I can describe the feature is a second pair of hands that are in handcuffs. Convenient, but not really.
“American drivers travel twice as many miles on urban and suburban highways as they do on rural roads,” said Barry Walkup, chief engineer of Super Cruise. “Super Cruise allows hands-free driving and operates only within the environment where it has the most benefit. While it is technically possible for the technology to drive hands-free on other kinds of streets and roads, we feel strongly that this targeted approach is the best to build consumer and regulatory confidence and enthusiasm for advanced mobility.”
Super Cruise can also help save your life, possibly the best feature out of this announcement. You’ll receive similar alerts if you don’t pay attention while you’re driving the car as if you had Super Cruise driving you, and if they loop continuously without you noticing as the result of, say, becoming unresponsive or suffering a tragedy like a heart attack, the system will pull your car over safely and have OnStar contact appropriate authorities. We’ve seen this type of technology from companies like Tesla and Mercedes-Benz before, so it’s nice to see it growing and making its way into more cars as it could save lives.
Cadillac aims to provide one of the most precise autonomous driving systems in the world thanks to their safety-oriented development process and integration with LiDAR map data. They’ll also use an array of real-time cameras, sensors, and GPS functionality to determine location accuracy and surrounding objects. “The development of Super Cruise reflects a responsible and safety-oriented approach to the rollout of this advanced technology,” said Johan de Nysschen, president of Cadillac. “Cadillac’s philosophy is to elevate driving. Super Cruise™ enables safe, simple hands-free driving for the highway.”
The 2018 Cadillac CT6 prestige sedan will become available this fall in the US and Canada. With so many major players in the car industry now introducing their own level of autopiloting, it looks like we’re gonna be seeing more implementations of similar technologies in the near future. 2017 just got started, so expect more news like this to surface in the near future.